Two-time major champion and fan favorite John Daly is coming to the 32nd Myrtle Beach World Amateur Handicap Championship.
Daly is scheduled to appear at the World’s Largest 19th Hole cocktail dinner party and expo at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center on Wednesday and Thursday of tournament week following the third and fourth rounds.
The tournament will be played Aug. 31 through Sept. 4 on approximately 60 Grand Strand courses, concluding with the championship round on Sept. 4 at the Barefoot Resort Dye Club.
Considering the nature of the event and Daly’s personality, this probably should have happened a long time ago.
“It’s something we’ve wanted to do for a few years as popular as he is with most golfers, especially our golfers, and the way he resonates with most people,” said Jeff Monday, tournaments director for marketing cooperative Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday, which operates the World Am. “Having him around is a great added value for our participants.”
Daly’s appearance will be in large part to promote his relatively new alcoholic beverage the “John Daly,” which consists of sweet tea, lemonade and vodka. It’s an alcoholic variation of the Arnold Palmer, a mixture of sweat tea and lemonade.
Three versions are bottled by a distillery in California – the Original John Daly and alternatives with peach tea and raspberry tea, all mixed with a proprietary five-times-distilled premium vodka.
In 2010, Daly and friends created the GIASI Beverage Co., with GIASI an acronym for “Grip It and Sip It,” a play off Daly’s signature “Grip It and Rip It” phrase pertaining to his aggressive golf swing. The beverages have been distributed extensively for only the past couple years.
They are available in more than 20 states and a couple additional countries, and are in several liquor stores on the Grand Strand through the Ben Arnold Beverage Company.
Daly already has several ties to the Strand. He was a designer of Wicked Stick Golf Links, has a golf store in his name on the south end of the beach and has been a regular participant in the Hootie & the Blowfish Monday After the Masters Celebrity Pro-Am held annually at Barefoot Resort’s Dye Club and the House of Blues.
“John has appeal all over the demographic chart when it comes to his customer,” said GIASI Beverage Co. president Brian Beatty. “… This event speaks to us in a grassroots, getting people together to enjoy the game of golf, and really Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is the John Daly golfer. That’s our guy.
“We’ve been there a lot, have a great relationship with a lot of people in that area and for us it was an opportunity to get involved and really embrace that area.”
Daly is expected to tend bar and serve his drink at a designated John Daly cocktail bar in the convention center, much like he did recently before a Chicago White Sox game at ChiSox Bar and Grill at U.S. Cellular Field.
He’ll also mingle with golfers on the floor, be available for pictures and autographs and join a band onstage that he recruited to play the event. Other details of his appearance are still being discussed.
He may also take part in a conversation and possible Question & Answer session on stage, and may broadcast his SiriusXM Satellite Radio show “Hit It Hard with John Daly” live from the 19th Hole. Beatty said of the one-hour radio show: “It’s just raw John. He says what he’s thinking. It’s not edited at all.”
The official band of the beverage is Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers, and at least Kellogg is scheduled to travel from the Northeast to play the convention center ballroom during Daly’s appearance. Some of his bandmates may join him.
“We just want him to be John,” Monday said. “We may ask him to be John at specific places at specific times.”
Beatty said Daly, 49, also plans to make daytime appearances at other restaurants, bars and venues in the Myrtle Beach area while he’s here, and is trying to recruit other musicians who are his friends to stage additional concerts at other venues on the Strand that week.
“This is going to be a big event for us,” Beatty said. “We’re going to partner with some other people to get more musical guests there. John has requested a bunch of guys to hang out and do some things, some national artists. We love the place and want to make sure we get the most out of it for our guys.”
In addition to Golf Holiday’s promotional efforts pertaining to the tournament, Beatty said Daly and his team plan a heavy information blitz through the social media outlets of Daly and the musicians who might be joining him, and promotions for the John Daly beverages are planned on the Strand this summer.
“It’s great content for us to promote the World Am,” Monday said.
Daly has won five times on the PGA Tour, including the 1991 PGA Championship and 1995 British Open.
He has played in six events on the PGA Tour this season, and while he has missed four cuts, he also has a tie for 10th in the Puerto Rico Open. Daly won the Beko Classic in Turkey in December for his first pro win since the 2004 Buick Invitational.
He has limited PGA Tour status this season but is expected to play quite a bit on the tour this summer prior to his appearance at the World Am, with anticipated starts in the British Open, PGA Championship, Reno-Tahoe Open and Canadian Open, and possible starts in the John Deere Classic, Greenbrier Classic and Wyndham Championship.
The second PGA Tour playoff event, the Deutsche Bank Championship, begins the Friday of World Am week. Should Daly rally to qualify for it, the appearance schedule would likely be tweaked, Beatty said.
Other celebrities joining Daly as 19th Hole participants include golf television personality Win McMurry, Golf Channel personality Charlie Rymer, and John Maginnes and Brian Katrek of SiriusXM’s PGA Tour Radio.
American Idol winner Taylor Hicks is scheduled to perform Tuesday night in the convention center ballroom.
McMurry has worked for Golf Channel, PGA Tour Entertainment and CBS Sports, and was named Golf's No. 1 Beauty by Golf Magazine. She is appearing for the second consecutive year and is scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday night. “She did a great job of video work we needed, getting interviews with everybody and getting some content we could use, so we’re definitely excited about her coming back,” Monday said.
Maginnes and Katrek are scheduled to broadcast the Katrek and Maginnes on Tap show live all four nights from 5-7 p.m. at the 19th Hole. Katrek may again play in the tournament, likely in the gross division.
“It’s great content for us as an event to have them promo the event and have them here live during the event to see it and explain it,” Monday said. “It’s one of those events you have to see to really understand the size of it and scope of it.”
Rymer will be the primary emcee on Monday and Tuesday and do some work on the floor.
“He’s always been a friend of the event and we’ve always enjoyed having him around, especially now that he’s become more of a daily personality on Golf Channel with the Morning Drive show,” Monday said. “And he’s always good for a story, so we can always get Charlie up there and let him talk for awhile.”
World Am steady
The first deadline for an early registration discount for the World Am was May 15, and Monday said the event is down about 30 participants compared to this time last year with nearly 2,700 players.
The tournament featured 3,405 players last year.
The entry fee was $475 through May 15, is $525 through June 25 and will increase to $575 after that date.
“After three years of growth I’ll take a steady year, so only being behind about 30 players isn’t making me too nervous,” Monday said. “Were pretty comfortable with that 3,400 number and if we get to that we’ll consider it a success.”
Another exemption secured
The Strand-based SwingThought.com Tour Pro Series continues to gain exemptions into Web.com Tour events.
An exemption into the $600,000 Digital Ally Open from Aug. 6-9 at Nicklaus Golf Club at LionsGate in Overland Park, Kan., will be awarded based on performance at the conclusion of this week’s All-American Golf Championship at Gates Four Golf & Country Club in Fayetteville, N.C.
It is the eighth exemption earned by the tour in 2015, and is added to four exemptions into the BMW Charity Pro-Am and one each into the United Leasing Championship, Air Capital Classic and Knoxville News Sentinel Open. The Air Capital Classic exemption will also be awarded at the end of this week’s $140,000 event.
Since the start of the 2010 season, the SwingThought Tour has secured 38 event exemptions including three into PGA Tour events in 2012 and 2013 at the Reno-Tahoe Open and Sanderson Farms Championship.